THE ACT Committee for an Independent Integrity Commission has today (October 31) tabled its final report, and recommends that a standing Anti-Corruption and Integrity Commission (ACIC) be established in the ACT.
The committee recommends the government establish a standing ACIC to investigate, expose and prevent corruption and foster public confidence in the integrity of the ACT government, and finalise the establishment of an ACT ACIC by the end of 2018.
As part of its considerations, the committee invited and received a range of submissions from interested organisations and individuals, as well as briefings from governance and integrity experts.
The committee also visited anti-corruption bodies in other Australian jurisdictions and heard from witnesses through public hearings in July and September 2017.
Other key recommendations from the committee are that an ACT ACIC should:
- have the following functions: (a) investigation, referral and reporting; (b) corruption prevention; and (c) public education (Recommendation 5);
- cover all public officials, and parties delivering contracted work or services on behalf of government (Recommendation 10);
- have oversight over policing officers funded to deliver services by and to the ACT taxpayer and community (Recommendation 12);
- have oversight over Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), MLA staff, and Judicial Officers (Recommendation 14);
- have a definition of ‘corrupt conduct’ based on Part 3 of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (Recommendation 17);
- be visible, accessible and a contact point for: citizens and public servants to make complaints/and report corruption concerns; referrals from within government (ACT Public Service); referrals from other integrity stakeholders/bodies; and referrals from other designated stakeholders (Recommendation 23);
- have the power to make findings of fact that corruption has occurred and that such a finding is not to be taken as a finding of guilt (Recommendation 38);
- be empowered to refer suspected instances of criminality to appropriate authorities (Recommendation 45);
- not be limited as to the timeframes around which former actions can be assessed, but have an operational focus that is largely prospective and focused on current matters (Recommendation 52);
- have the power to hold public examinations. The decision on whether to hold public or private examinations should be informed by a public interest test (Recommendation 54); and
- be an Officer of the Assembly (Recommendation 58).
The committee says it acknowledges that the ACT is a human rights jurisdiction and that there needs to be appropriate safeguards in the enabling legislation of an ACT ACIC to ensure procedural fairness and to guard against abuse of its investigative and coercive powers.
The report can be accessed at: https://www.parliament.act.